Instinct or Fitness…

IMG_1399

I’m just going to admit it- I’m uncoordinated. I will never be good at sports or exercising. Never have been, do not aspire to it.  First of all, going to a gym without at least some color on my face- blush or lipstick -would be sort of horrifying for me. I would hate to inflict that on anyone. I no longer buy swimsuits. I still call them bathing suits-I do not wear bathing suits so as not to inflict my aging body on the general public.  I can wear a cute cover up and have a fine old time. IMG_1398

The last time I tried exercising in a group publically was in an aerobics class at my church at least 30 years ago- it was a disaster– no really, I am not kidding. The building had indoor/outdoor carpeting. I  had on a cute new outfit with socks and tennis shoes. I stood on the back row of a class of 30 women, just in case. I could not get the steps right, I could not shift several steps to the right and hop, flailing my arms around in the air at the same time. I hopped-scooted over…my tennis shoe caught on the indoor outdoor carpet I stumbled backwards, trying not to hurt anyone or break their rhythm and ended up flinging myself into a whole wall of metal folding chairs. It was not pretty, it was loud with all of those chairs falling like steel dominoes. The acoustics in that room are pretty good… let’s just say this was not a joyful noise unto the Lord.women exercising dailymail.uk

I have tried to explain being uncoordinated for years- especially when folks tell me about steps and swings and all manner of fitness routines. I cannot risk it.  I’m not proud of this.  I have tried walking on a tread mill more than once and more than once have managed to trip and skid off, machine still rolling.women on treadmills vintage

My husband, a person of considerable athletic skill, has known and accepted my uncoordinated style; since as newlyweds he let me go with him on a run…when we got back he said-

  • ‘How ’bout letting me run by myself from now on?
  • ‘Why?’
  • ‘Well your feet flap on the pavement.’ Enough said.

I signed up for golf lessons many years ago…the instructor told me at the end of the first lesson- ‘Ma’am, golf just isn’t your game.’ He didn’t offer to return my money…I didn’t ask either.vintage woman golfing

I really accepted my ineptness early on…when I was in college I was required to have a certain amount of physical education.

  • I took tennis.
  • I knew the rules, I aced the written tests.
  • When my grade came out, it was a glaring ‘B’ –
  • I asked the instructor why he had given me a B-
  •  Graciously he said, ‘You don’t have the Killer Instinct.’

Most Southern folks start planning their funerals when they are in their 40’s if not before…Please believe me, I know this- we have a morbid fascination with the process. It could be argued that dyin’ is more fascinating in the South. When I want my husband to listen to anything I am saying – I just have to say- ‘When I die…’ or ‘I want this played at my funeral.’   He listens up.

Recently I was contemplating an extra roll of fat I had found- it’s none of your business where I found it-I was thinking maybe I should give fitness another chance. I’ve got some important tests coming up- my cholesterol screening and BMI. I thought of all the personal risks involved. To exercise is risky for me.  I have decided that having-

Beloved Wife and Mother

She Never had the Killer Instinct

Carved on my tombstone-is sounding better and better all the time.old tombstone- aol images

Meanwhile, before I start pushing up daisies- I’m keeping close to the ground and digging in my garden…

Love y’all, Camellia

The photograph of the tennis player and the swimmer are from a vintage encyclopedia- called The New Wonder World- last copyright- 1941 by Geo. L. Shuman and Co.

The women on treadmills- attributed to an article by Huffingon Post

The golfer, the group photograph of women exercising and the tombstone from AOL images and may be subject to copyright.

 

Stop, Look and Listen…

Stop. Look. Listen. Those street crossing instructions not only kept us safe, they also sent us across the street and on our way. In our continuing series of ‘What will I do with this Time?’ There are design tips, there are inspirational tips and there are marketing tips, which we hope to include as well. Creating streams of income in these challenging times is certain to be important. In a recent Instagram postBlue Doors, a series of doors were matched up with amusing human characteristics. ( Look for the opening photo of the Blue Door on my IG grid) If you hope to sell a service or product, you must Look at the individual needs, hopes and dreams of potential customers. It’s not enough to figure out a way to sell them what you hope to sell- your job is:

  • to figure out their lifestyles,
  • their means to purchase or
  • if what you’re offering is even relevant to their lives.
  • If it is, then this post will help you in your marketing efforts. It’s mostly, Listen and Stop. Here are a few examples:
  • You: ‘Throw out those old spices, make potpourri bags or something.’ * When actually – ‘I was hoping you could help me organize and plan new shelves.’ *If you’d stopped long enough before advising and just listened.
  • You: ‘Why in the world would you put a chair out here?’ ‘Oh, I thought it would be fun to have our coffee out here, while we talk about that new addition.’ *Yikes, if you’d just stopped and listened…
  • Take this dark linen closet- You: ‘Let’s get this cleared out, lighten it up, put in some shelves…’ Stop. Listen. ‘No, I wanted to step into my little home office first- am really interested in…’ *What you saw, wasn’t what she wanted you to look at!’
  • Or listen in on this exchange- You: ‘Mary Beth, the sewing circle would love to have all of this! Then you could have a guest room!’ No, no no. ‘Actually, I was hoping you could design a craft room for me.’ *I hope you didn’t dampen her enthusiasm or talk yourself right out of a job!
  • Look at this all white kitchen- You- ‘We need to get you some color in here, liven things up!’ Really? Here’s what was said- ‘Well we like it, I just need a sisal rug and was hoping you could tell me what size to get.’ *Stop. While you’re ahead.
  • What about those lovely old windows? You: ‘We can get you some shades or curtains in here to cut the glare.’ Um no. ‘I love the light coming in here.’ *Listen. You just lost that job. Full stop.
  • Take this lovely old plant room… You: ‘Let’s replace these rickety doors, get you some metal shelves you can wash down.’ * Really, you just said that? ‘Well, I wanted to give you a plant before we talk about replacing the bathroom wallpaper.’ Thud. Just stop. Listen.
  • And this gorgeous flower room? Please don’t say- ‘Let’s clear it of all the clutter, make it easier to clean…then see where we are!’ Uh NO. ‘Actually, I’m hosting a flower arranging workshops- I really needed help with my son’s room.’ *Please stop while you’re ahead.
  • Doors of opportunity will open if you’ll focus on the customer. The best sales happen when you Stop Selling and Start Listening. Give compliments, not unsolicited advice. And. Listen to this – which applies to anything in life- ‘The cry of the human heart is to be heard.’
  • Marketing today is about making connections, building friendships and gaining trust. Stop. Look. and Listen – first.
  • Love y’all, Brenda
  • Abundance…

    As much as I admire simple, curated space – there’s a case to be made for abundance. Let me ask a question first- which organ of the body uses the most energy, the Heart or the Brain? The brain uses a full 20% of the human body’s energy. Sight, sound, scent and taste – these senses originate in the brain, That’s why visual images are so important in design.

    The same brain that loves order also enjoys abundance. Half full or mostly empty are generally unattractive. In any type of brand or campaign for products- balance is key. A product page needs to be simple and curated. A special display benefits from negative space. Your physical store, the cover of a catalog, a travelogue or business blog even newsletter are the perfect places for abundance. And don’t get me started on our homes and gardens.

    Abundance -without looking cluttered, stuffy or just plain messy- which is universally unappealing. Where to use it? Abundance is a design principle and when selectively, the human eye finds it appealing. Abundance is that satisfying sensation we feel when we see a good harvest, a basketful in fact!

    Set an abundant bowl of fruit on a simple table and it immediately becomes more attractive. Common food displayed in rustic basket or a bundle of garlic on burlap speaks abundance to the eye. A well stocked store is far more appealing than empty shelves.

    In the landscape, abundance is what we enjoy seeing. An ornate bench is a type of abundance. Used in just the right setting or proportion is beautiful. Generous bouquets are always a welcome sight and tends to warm a simple space up. Green plants generously added to even the most curated space, have a calm, cooling effect in an overly sunny space. Fresh flowers and plants always add to the experience of a home or an event.

    I’m convinced one reason grazing boards are so popular is we like a generous spread and selection of food.

    Coco Chanel loved her many ropes ..and ropes of pearls- her simple designs were often set off with generous strands of pearls.

    And isn’t that what we really want? Generosity? Without saying a word- abundance is generous, satisfying and ‘no worries there’s enough to go around’.

    Yes, abundance as a design principle is amazing. You can do this! I know you can- finding the right balance is key -with a bit of practice you’ll find other folks will appreciate it too!

    Love y’all, Brenda

    Simplicity…

    Simple. Curated. Space. The concept of simplicity is at once easy and difficult to achieve. Ask any realtor the difference between the way a buyer sees a property is often a simple matter of getting rid of clutter. A simple, curated space is visibly more attractive.

    Neutral paint colors actually help the buyer’s imagination as to how the place can be made their own. The mix of simplicity and abundance in landscape design is also highly prized. Though a cluttered, unkept yard is off putting. So, how do we choose? There’s an art to abundance and an art to simplicity in almost any design.

    Businesses, large and small, are turning more and more to online shops to support the loss of in-store purchases. If you’re setting up an a product page, a website, an online shop or even an in store display- simple and curated helps your customer decide, then imagine your products as their own. Simple isn’t boring. The vintage wooden spoons aren’t lined up like soldiers, they’re artfully arranged with simplicity. Simple table settings may seem plain, yet the color will come from the food and personalities around the table.

    If you’re a seller of unique one of a kind pieces- a simple display on frayed fabric is a simple charming display. I once wrote about my favorite small and useful kitchen tools, On white foam core board, I snapped a pic and the tools were easy to recognize. In store or an online shop, this sort of display is easy on the eye, very little explanation needed and easy to price.

    Often a product needs a bit of interest, the black striped napkins and ladle become the stars. It’s simple and curated. Cooling racks might not look inviting on their own, add simple cookies- the buyer sees the advantage of owning one.

    Often cooked food isn’t as pretty as the ingredients- my grandmother’s egg plate with a single egg sets the scene for deviled eggs. An iron skillet is simply beautiful- a pone of cornbread on a wooden table tell a story.

    Before spices are blended- they’re more beautiful than the mix itself as a display. Pretty vintage white linens, a bowl, simple utensils only need a sprig of lavender for me to write a story!

    Simple. Curated. Space. Works for almost anything. Simple, neutral and calm space is easy on the eye. It’s a subtle, yet Top Design Tip. Avoid overwhelm any time, now more than ever. Go easy on the eye as often as you can. Simplicity is at once easy and difficult to achieve. It’s doesn’t have to be perfect, just really good. This is one tip I’m confident will boost sales and with a little restraint- you can do it!

    Love y’all. Brenda

    *Easy Spice Blend:

    1-2 Tablespoons Granular Coffee 3-4 Tablespoons Kosher Salt 1-2 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns 1 Tablespoon Paprika 1/2 – 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional) 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder 1-2 Tablespoons Pure Cane Sugar

    *Grind spices together into a rough chop. Store tightly. Perfect as a rub for grilled Meats.

    Time…

    img_5706Whether we like it or not- Time passes. Think of a clock… before we can say Tick- it’s already become Tock. That’s how fast time goes by. Being busy is a good thing- yet as Thoreau said- ‘It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is- What are we busy about?’ I’ve asked myself this question almost everyday in the past few months…‘What will you do with this time?’ Some days my mind is sharp and I’m clear on what I’ll do with the time…other days seem like a blur. Some days I’m busy and yet it seems nothing gets done. Other days, I’ve been less busy, more focused and gotten more done in one hour than a whole day through. That’s the problem isn’t it? Our minds are often so overwhelmed, then when the noise is turned down, we filter out the urgent and are focused and productive on the important.

    I think my best gift is to be on the support team. I’m never happier than when I’m cheering on others. In my immediate family, one was responsible for the adoptions of 1000’s of children, another is an excellent reading specialist- untold numbers or children will benefit from her work, still another is a software engineer working to keep our country safe, and another is an environmental engineer. What they do might look like luck or magic- yet,  I know it’s a combination of intelligence, imagination, making the most of their time and hard work.  To say I’m the underachiever in this bunch wouldn’t be an understatement. Still. During this pandemic, what we’ve found out is that those who are the support teams are the most essential workers now.  Hopefully cheering my family on, being their personal support, made a difference in what they’ve been able to achieve.

    img_5705So! In an effort to support creatives, here’s where I’m spending some of that precious time.

    • First, let me give you a critical piece of advice– if you write a blog that’s great, just make sure you’re active on at least one other social media platform.
    • Post about what you love, at work and having fun. History will be very curious about what ‘regular’ folks were doing this pandemic.
    • Just be yourself, show up in your feed- even if you’re like me and hate to show my face or take selfies, thank you very much! Don’t try to perfect- that’s not a thing anyway. Put as much of yourself out there that’s decent. ( That’s what Momma would tell you anyway)
    • Work and also have fun.
    • Connect with people. That’s what being social is all about! Engagement with others helps you and helps them too!

    img_5703If you’re interesting in growing– here’s my Rule of Four plan I’ve had in place for a while now, I try to do it everyday and uses barely any time at all:

    1. Like and leave at least 4 comments on accounts you follow. I no longer believe just leaving a “like’ is quite enough.
    2. Follow at least 4 hashtags- leave at least 4 comments on accounts you don’t follow. 
    3. Like and comment on at least 4 Stories or Videos. If they leave a message for you- please make a remark!
    4. Find 4 small accounts per week that you aren’t currently following- like and comment on their feed. This might be my favorite of the four! When someone’s starting out of beginning something-  leave a short appropriate comment. *And please don’t confine yourself to just one age or type, find folks who are creating things you aren’t, who are living lives in different ways.

    Years go by so fast, we’re never sure what we did with the minutes- we only see the results when if we look back.  Here’s what I know for sure- so much more is happening in the minutes than in the hours, days, weeks or even years. All of it accumulates into something- hopefully, it adds up to a life well lived instead of well spent. Not that time doesn’t matter, it does. Yet, just like money- how you spend it or save it matters less than how you’ve lived.

    Remember life rarely ever works out like we plan. We get sidetracked or distracted by all the setbacks, never realizing this- Life almost always turn out like it’s supposed to. Supporting others is never wasted time.

    Love y’all, Brenda

    Could we talk about Negative Space?

    img_5640Could we talk about Negative Space? No, no, no- not that negative space of our mental states. Yet, that’s the point too- when we entered this time of lockdown and uncertainty- our minds were affected and overwhelmed. Still, I wondered – what will I do with this time to help others?  Those who are pursuing creative endeavors- product based or service based, yes even writing a blog. So, in an effort to put to use some of my experience in creative and conventional marketing. When I gave you Five Principles of Good Design–  The use of negative space Is hidden in three of those Design Principles-

    • Focal Point,
    • Light and Color,
    • Abundance and Restraint

    Negative Space is a design principle, one so common that you’re apt to ignore it unless you’re looking for it. In fact, hidden in all 3 of those design principles is the use of Negative Space. Use it if you want your artwork, photograph or cupcake as the Focal Point. You actually use negative space- especially with Light and Color or lack thereof. And! Restraint might be the order of the day when Negative Space is employed!

    Later, when I wrote a post forInstagram , the use of negative space was so apparent, I realized I had neglected a critical principle of good design. In fact, one photo in particular made me have that lightbulb moment. In collecting charming images of aging adults- some were in black and white- others were in color- to make the post flow as it should I had decided to convert all of them to black and white images. Here it is- see if you can detect negative space at work!img_5611

    Yes, it’s the actual image of the lady herself! Not distracted by any other color, wording or clutter around her- she stood out in beautifully stark relief. Her image is the positive space. All around her is what is called negative space. And yes, it works with color also. Take this cupcake, if you’re a baker or food photographer- a tray of beautiful cupcakes cannot compare to a single cupcake pictured with the use of negative space.img_5623

    After decades of working in product campaigns, on the selling floors of shops and stores and helping to reset the retail space- it was drilled into us that display space is highly prized real estate. What we put on those walls, in cases or counters hand how it was displayed made all the difference. The composition and balance created on those walls enhanced its appeal to shoppers.img_5614

    You can expect these white blouses to be expensive, unique or that this is a new line carried by the retailer simply because of few blouses using up all of that valuable real estate! Think of a handbag display in a high end store– the wall has far fewer displayed than in a discount store, where everything is crammed in tight! High End Shoes are often displayed in this ‘set apart’ manner as well. The couture shoe is highlighted by the negative space around it. img_5626

    The eye is able to rest precisely because of an often overlooked and basic design principle called Negative Space.

    I wanted to talk to you about the use of negative space in your creative endeavors, one which will uplevel your products or services, make your space more notable and even appear more valuable. The grid of products on your Website or Instagram feed, for shoppers is much like a store front to display your array of products and services. And don’t think color can’t be used to great effect to expand what’s on your Virtual Wall – take a look at this beautiful one… the use of pink is the negative space, the eye rests and then sees the actual products!img_5616

    Having to close a physical studio, workshop space or brick and mortar meant you had to up level your online presence with platforms like your website or Instagram (which is the favorite platform currently for inspiration and business.) Negative Space isn’t just an important tool- it’s now a critical design element, so that when anyone looked at your IG grid. With the use of Negative Space design, folks could see- not just a mass of beautiful images of your photographs, jewelry, garden, clothing or accessories designs, negative space highlights your designs and also gives the eye a chance to rest.  Overloaded minds aren’t just yours, the shoppers minds need to rest as well. Take a look at the difference between one image and another- see which one enables your eye to rest (both use negative space by the way)

    If your grid is full of images, the eyeglasses will draw the eye far easier than the shoes and accessories image. The use of quotes on blank backgrounds – usually white, neutral  with black type is most effective. Even an image of a simple logo could be considered easy on the eye. img_5634

    Use quotes or negative space images every 4-5 blocks also helps your grid – Breathe.  Another benefit of negative space! Closely comparted to the silence in a musical piece called Rest, even though in art, the use of negative space.

    img_5503The point is, your customers or target audience, right now, is also as overwhelmed as you are! Regardless of what you’re selling- cleaning tools to soft leather bags even industrial equipment- the use of Negative Space is your insider tip! Try it, I think you’ll be amazed…

    Love y’all, Brenda

    * I’m going to show you two images- one is a Before I began to employ negative space in my grid on IG- the other is After… side effect was more followers! The first one is Before- the Second One simply adding negative space with the use of quotes-

     

    1) Just a bunch of unrelated photographs- img_5628

     

    2) Use of negative space-img_5629